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Spring has Sprouted!

An Education on Elderberry Varieties

We made it, Spring is here and our Elderberry plants have sprouted! So, it only seems fitting we give you a proper introduction to the elderberry plant.

Our farm, Hidden Holler, located in Berger, MO gives us a rare advantage over the other brands out there. Owning a farm has been an incredible experience, while it makes us vertically integrated, it also comes with a vertical learning curve. We have over 9,200 elderberry plants that will turn 4 this year. Did you know, elderberries are native to the Midwest? And, Missouri is the #1 state for US elderberry agriculture! 

We have to be honest, we had no idea what we were getting into when we said we would buy a farm and be vertically integrated. It’s been so much work to get where we are with 5 acres of elderberry plants. It’s been a huge time, resource, and money investment. It’s been long hours, weekends, and lots of help from families and friends. 4 years ago, based on research and recommendations from other elderberry farmers, we planted 4 American varieties in 5 acres and have been caring for them ever since.

Adams - Originated and selected from the wild in New York in 1926. One of the oldest varieties produces the largest fruit of any elderberry variety. This is the most popular type of American Elderberry known for its white flowers and dark purple berries. The fruit is great for juice, jellies, wine, or drying. 

Wyldewood-  This cultivar was selected from a wild population near Eufaula, Missouri in 2010. It can tolerate extreme cold and is tolerant of a wide range of soils. It has huge flower clusters that are 2 inches wider than the clusters of any other cultivar. Blossoms in June and can be harvested 14 days after Adams and Bob Gordon. It produces small dark purple, almost black, berries and is excellent for jams, jellies, and wines. 

Bob Gordon - Selected near Osceola, Missouri in 1999. Known for its large flower clusters with white flowers. The fruit is small to medium and is purple and sweet. Harvest for this variety is mid-late July. This is often selected for elderberry wine. 

Pocahontas -originating in Pocahontas, Arkansas, and is the fastest growing, most vigorous cultivar. It has large flower and berry heads. It blooms later than other varieties. 

These are all American varieties. So, why is this important? When looking at Elderberry products, check to see where the elderberry is originating: European-grown or American-grown elderberries. The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is more shrub-like and can grow up to 8 to 10 feet high, while the European black elder (Sambucus nigra) has the makings of a small tree and will reach 20 feet. In the last 20 years and today, there are major efforts happening in America to establish a commercialized American elderberry industry. With the increased research, education, farmers, and product recognition the (USDA) is aiming to help farmers grow native-to-America black elderberry or Sambucus canadensis. 

American elderberry has been shown to be a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, zinc, copper, and many other minerals. It is also one of the richest sources of bioflavonoids called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have been studied to help with a variety of health issues like relieving oxidative stress, combating cancer, fighting inflammation, balancing blood sugar levels, and supporting a healthy immune response. They are still studying the plant and all its health benefits.  

We planted four different varieties of elderberries on our farm so we can stagger the harvest. Each variety blossoms and ripens at different times, so it gives us time to make it through the 70+ rows. We also planted a variety as we weren’t sure which one was going to grow the best. We quickly found out, our Wyldewood plants didn’t grow. We were bummed because they are known for their bigger and more beautiful flowers. Pocahontas didn’t do well on our farm either. We are moving the Pocahontas to another row in our field and will try again. While we have mentors, we are beginners and we are learning every day. 

We will continue to offer education and updates on our social media on the growth of our plants this year. We ask that you keep spreading the word and help us grow.

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